City To Receive Public Input on Homelessness Report

Homeless man sits on sidewalk
Homeless man sits on sidewalk | Image by KT Gravatt/Shutterstock

The City of Dallas will be hosting a special meeting to discuss the HOPE report, and City leaders are encouraging Dallasites to participate and give their input on how the municipality should respond to homelessness.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson appointed the Homelessness, Organizations, Policies, and Encampments (HOPE) task force in February of last year to find and develop policy solutions for homelessness in Dallas, as previously covered by The Dallas Express.

The task force’s report, which was released in June 2023, found that “Dallas has seen significant increases in homelessness, especially unsheltered homelessness over the last ten years,” outpacing the nationwide average.

The report also included a recommendation to dissolve entities that are meant to create accountability in the City’s homeless response system, such as the Dallas Area Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness (DAPEH). Since the report’s release, the DAPEH has begun reorganizing itself to better achieve its goals, with Council Member Cara Mendelsohn (District 12) serving as chair.

The Dallas City Council Housing and Homelessness Solutions (HHS) Committee will hold a special meeting at City Hall on Thursday, January 18, at 6:00 p.m.

“One of the most consistent complaints I hear in my office involves homelessness,” Council Member Jesse Moreno (District 2), chair of the HHS Committee, told The Dallas Express.

“I and my District 2 neighbors see the pervasive problem of homelessness every day, one that persists throughout the city,” he said. “It is in everyone’s interest that we regularly evaluate our processes and ensure we are headed in the right direction on this issue.”

“Homelessness is a problem, not only for the unsheltered but for our residents and business owners who are also affected,” Moreno continued. “The humane response to this problem is one that sustainably removes barriers to success and improves the conditions of those who have fallen on hard times. This mission is a big responsibility and I appreciate the hard work that City staff have put into this important work.”

Moreno told The Dallas Express that as City leaders determine how to address homelessness moving forward, they must do so in a way that aligns with the interests of Dallas residents.

“As we discuss new ideas in response to an ever-changing world, we must stay attuned to the needs of our constituents,” he said. “As council members, we rely on input as representatives of our communities. The last thing I want as my district’s representative is to make decisions or recommendations that are out of touch with what’s happening on our streets and in our neighborhoods.”

Moreno noted that the upcoming special meeting will include the opportunity for public comment so that officials can gather “valuable input from the public.” Dallas residents will be able to speak to council members during the meeting and can register by contacting [email protected] before 5 p.m. on January 17.

“I know that the City hasn’t always gotten it right when it comes to looping residents in on what we’re doing,” he continued. “As we evaluate the incredible work that the HOPE Task Force did, I want to make sure that the HHS Committee is empathetic to the needs of the public and receptive to its voice.”

“We will also work to make these discussions as productive and comprehensible as possible. We need business owners, residents, and those who may have experience with homelessness in their own lives to visit City Council on January 18 at 6:00 p.m. to provide the input we need to best represent you.”

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, a survey of city residents found that 76% were dissatisfied with the levels of homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling seen in their neighborhoods and throughout Dallas.

The “one-stop-shop” model of Haven for Hope has been credited with reducing unsheltered homelessness by 77% in downtown San Antonio and has polled favorably among Dallas residents.

Some local stakeholders are aiming to bring a similar model to the city, but it remains to be seen whether local officials will support this effort.

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